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HDR Is The Question

More Exposures Mean More Data

Here are the four exposures I took to create the previous image. The top right shot is the average exposure of the scene. The highlights are blown out, and the shadows are too dark.

For my HDR image, I wanted to maintain some of the shadows. Had I wanted more detail in the shadow areas, I’d have taken additional exposures, overexposing them to the point where I could see the details on my camera’s LCD monitor.

I took the image on the left in Lower Antelope Canyon. The contrast range wasn’t as great as in my Upper Antelope Canyon image, so processing the image in Adobe Camera Raw did the trick of bringing out the shadow details and toning down the highlights.

HDR Is Not a Magic Fix

Here are two HDR images from a 2009 trip to Horseshoe Bend, which is near Page, Ariz., about a 10-minute drive from the slot canyons. In both images, HDR was used to avoid blocked-up shadows and overexposed highlights, which were caused by the strong shadow of the sun.

The pictures are okay, but personally, I don’t like the shadow in the scene.

The Right Light for the Situation

Here’s my favorite photograph of Horseshoe Bend. It isn’t an HDR image. It’s a straight shot, actually taken on a 2002 trip to the site, before HDR was available for amateur and professional photographers.

This image is a success because the contrast range is much less than in my previous images of Horseshoe Bend. That reduced contrast range was created by an overcast sky. In other words, there were no strong shadow areas and no bright highlight areas.

For scenes like this one, there’s really no need to shoot HDR because you can expand the dynamic range, if you want to, in Adobe Camera Raw.

The message: You need to wait for the right light, be lucky and get the right light, or pray for the right light. Amen!

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